Houston man charged in deadly 6-vehicle crash arrested at IAH

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Police have arrested the man accused of causing the deadly multi-vehicle crash at South Post Oak and Gasmer on April 2nd.

Tarus Lawson, 42, was arrested and charged with manslaughter almost two weeks after the deadly crash.

Witnesses and the victim's family wonder why he wasn't arrested at the scene.

Police say Lawson crashed into the back of Juan Ortiz's truck, causing a six-vehicle chain reaction. Ortiz died hours later at the hospital. His wife was also injured.

Authorities say Lawson was on parole at the time of the crash. He has three previous DWI charges in addition to the aggravated assault and manslaughter charges. He's being held with no bond.

"He took my mom's husband away. He took my kids' grandfather away. I want him to rot in prison," daughter Jennifer Rojas said.

Witnesses told police that Lawson was swerving in and out of traffic before the crash.

An off-duty Fort Bend County Sheriff's deputy, said she smelled a chemical odor on him, she believed to be PCP. She also noticed Lawson had slurred speech and a hard time standing.

According to court records, accident reconstruction showed he was travelling 67 mph when he crashed into Juan Ortiz's truck, and he did not brake.

Sources also say Lawson did not know where he was. After the crash he stated he was on 288, then he stated he was on I-10, neither were correct.

Eyewitnesses questioned why Lawson was not arrested on the scene. Rojas questioned it too.

"He's been under the influence driving before. That's ridiculous. He's been given several chances. I hope this is the one that locks him up for life," Rojas said. "I want him to spend the rest of his life thinking about what he did to my family," Jennifer added.

The accident report also shows officers on scene did not take alcohol or drug specimen from the scene, despite reports that he appeared impaired.

Eyewitness News reached out to HPD on numerous occasions to ask them about the report, why Lawson wasn't checked at the scene and whether the officers involved are facing an internal investigation. HPD has yet to answer our questions.

Ortiz was laid to rest on Tuesday. His wife was unable to attend the funeral because of her injuries.

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